Lolita, Madame Bovary, Roxana: Life Lessons from Beloved Books

This is mostly about Lolita, because it is my favourite novel. If you don’t want to encounter spoilers or opinionated ramblings, I’d advise clicking away. (That can apply to any post you see here.) Novels are foxy and full of tricks: they wear guises, they steal tales and retell them, and they shape-shift shamelessly. You can […]

The Ernest Hemingway Institute of Manliness

I poured the water glass a third full of cognac and drank it off. ‘That was very big,’ she said. ‘I know brandy is for heroes. But you shouldn’t exaggerate.’ – From A Farewell to Arms Was there ever a man as manly as Ernest Hemingway? When I’m feeling a little melancholy and addled, I […]

Review: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

I picked this book up from the library because the title was irresistible, started reading it on the train home, and was smitten, immediately. Often books arrive just when you need them the most, and this one arrived, volatile and funny, full of dark wit and poetry and joyful hope, on a grey Sunday in January. It was meant […]

Stargazey Pie and Winter Tales

The alarm goes in the dark. The day looms ahead: rain, aches, itches, work. Wonderful possibilities are passing you by. Strangers are lost and unhappy and grief-struck. We’re an insignificant speckle amid infinite space. Yes, ‘tis the festive season again. Pass me my daylight therapy lamp, for I am s.a.d. If the dark is getting […]

Feminism: Back By Popular Demand

I’ve been thinking about the word feminist for a long time. I’ve been thinking about it, but for most of my life, I haven’t been saying it. There were big reasons and small reasons. For the most part, it was to do with my feelings about privacy and the right to be a weird little […]

I Gave Up Everything Good For 6 Months: The End Point

If this tale began like a made-for-tv movie drama, pitching in at the start with the grisly moment of horror around which the rest of the story will unfold, then it would have to begin with a close up of me in my flat around 2am, having just stumbled from a Halloween party, eating a […]

Misery, Happiness, Caramel, Unicorns

I love all the weird idioms which we all say like they’re totally normal. It’s fine to talk about something happening ‘once in a blue moon’. Also fine: ‘feeling blue’, ‘a prize idiot’ (what prize? The possibilities…), ‘swings and roundabouts’, ‘cutting to the chase’. As much fun as it is that we all talk in […]

“Self-Esteem is a Lifetime’s Work” and Other Celebrity Endorsements of Being a Mess

I read that quote in an interview with a celebrity years ago… obviously it was a celebrity whose body wasn’t sylph-like enough to grace a magazine cover. A celebrity who had to avoid humidity because it made their hair go all bouffant. A celebrity with squinty teeth. And a mono-brow. No, ofcourse, it wasn’t. It […]

Heavenly Places

Life is pretty short on miracles. I know this because I have made that shift, as pretty much everyone has, from my childhood state of believing pretty much ANYTHING, to the slightly flattening realisation that unexpectedly wonderful things are few and far between. Which is fair enough, because life is unmiraculous, and I’d be hell […]

I Gave Up Everything Good for 6 Months… the 1-Month-In Lowdown.

New Year came and went and I had no intention of giving up on any of the stuff that made my world go round… drinking, smoking, rock n roll, tasty sandwiches, etc. So it was belatedly that I joined the party (so to speak) with the tiny inkling of a feeling that my life might […]